-Nearly 6 in 10 persons in state prison for a drug offense have no history of violence or high-level drug selling activity;
--African Americans comprise 14% of regular drug users, but are 37% of those arrested for drug offenses and 56% of persons in state prison for drug offenses;
--African Americans serve almost as much time in federal prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months), largely due to racially disparate sentencing laws such as the 100-to-1 crack-powder cocaine disparity."
--The Sentencing Project: "A 25-Year Quagmire: The War On Drugs And Its Impact on American Society."
Listen up. Today, the daddy is feeling an article by David Sirota, a well- known blogger and journalist. His post is about the phony U.S. "drug war." Now, the daddy has always believed that this so-called "war on drugs" was nothing more than a cover for arming and supporting right-wing governments and death squads in Latin America and an excuse to throw black males (and now hispanics) in jail rather than treat them. But Sirota thinks that some people in the U.S. government are waking up to the reality that this phony drug war is costly and is working against America's interest as a whole. It has not reduced demand and, more importantly, it is helping to fuel a real drug war among Mexican drug cartels below the border that is now spilling over into the United States. Check it out.
Finally, a little honesty by David Sirota
Finally, after America has frittered away billions of taxpayers dollars arming Latin American death squads, airdropping toxic herbicide on equatorial farmland and incarcerating more of its own citizens on nonviolent drug charges than an y other industrialized nation, two political leaders last week tried to begin taming the most wildly out-of-control beast in the government zoo: federal narcotics policy.
It started with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating an embarrassingly obvious truth that politicians almost never discuss. In a speech about rising violence in Mexico, she said, “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade,” and then added that “we have co-responsibility” for the cartel-driven carnage plaguing our southern border.
She’s right, of course. For all the Rambo-ish talk about waging a “war on drugs” that interdicts the supply of narcotics, we have not diminished demand—specifically, the demand for marijuana that cartels base their business on.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Americans spend about $9 billion a year on Mexican pot.
Add that to the roughly $36 billion worth of domestically produced weed, and cannabis has become one of the continent’s biggest cash crops. As any mob movie illustrates, mixing such “insatiable” demand for a product with statutes outlawing said product guarantees the emergence of a violent black market—in this case, one in which Mexican drug cartels reap 62 percent of their profits from U.S. marijuana sales.
That last stat, provided by the White House drug czar, is the silver lining. Every American concerned about Mexico’s security problems should be thankful that the cartels are so dependent on marijuana, and not a genuinely hazardous substance like heroin. Why? Because that means through pot legalization we can bring the marijuana trade out of the shadows and into the safety of the regulated economy, consequently eliminating the black market the cartels rely on. And here’s the best part: We can do so without fearing any more negative consequences than we already tolerate in our keg-party culture.
Though President Obama childishly laughed at a question about legalization during his recent town hall meeting, his government implicitly admits that marijuana is safer than light beer. Indeed, as federal agencies acknowledge alcohol’s key role in deadly illnesses and domestic violence, their latest anti-pot fear-mongering is an ad campaign insisting—I kid you not—that marijuana is dangerous because it makes people zone out on their couches and diminishes video gaming skills.
(This is your government on drugs: Cirrhosis and angry tank-topped lushes beating their wives are more acceptable risks than stoners sitting in their basements ineptly playing Halo ... any questions?).
Despite this idiocy, despite polls showing that most Americans support some form of legalization, and despite such legalization promising to generate billions of dollars in tax revenue, Clinton only acknowledged the uncomfortable reality about demand. That’s certainly no small step, but she did not address drug policy reform. Confronting that taboo subject was left to Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.
Last week, this first-term lawmaker proposed creating a federal commission to examine potential changes to the prison system, including a relaxation of marijuana statutes.
Webb hails from a conservative-leaning swing state whose criminal justice laws are among the nation’s most draconian, so there’s about as much personal political upside for him in this fight as there is for Clinton—that is to say, almost none. That isn’t stopping him, though.
“The elephant in the bedroom in many discussions on the criminal justice system is the sharp increase in drug incarceration,” he said in a speech, later telling The Huffington Post that pot legalization “should be on the table.”
Finally, a little honesty—and now, maybe, some action.
David Sirota is the best-selling author of the books “Hostile Takeover” (2006) and “The Uprising” (2008). He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future. Find his blog at OpenLeft.com or e-mail him at email@example.com.